Eager Bolton aiming to set the record straight
Ask Emmet Bolton how he’s done against Dublin in the past and the answer isn’t one he has to go rummaging for.
“Never beat them,” he replies without a beat going by. “Never once at senior. Beat them at under-21 years ago and beat them well too. And we beat them last year in the O’Byrne Cup but I wasn’t playing. So I’ve never been on the winning side against them as a senior footballer. Been close but never done it.”
It’s a bracing thought, when you play it out.
Bolton is 27, has been an All Star nominee for each of the last three years and yet he’s never knocked a Jack on his back.
If it tells us anything, maybe it reminds us of Kildare’s actual place in the world order rather than the one we perceive them to hold. Year by year, we pin them as contenders but maybe we’re being unfair. Expecting too much of them.
That’s certainly how it looked when Cork frogmarched them off the premises in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final. After four successive years of exiting the championship in stone-cold thrillers that were never decided by more than a kick of the ball, Kildare were vaporised with a 13-point show of strength that day.
It left the idea of Kieran McGeeney’s side being a serious factor looking faintly silly.
Little wonder then that the turning of the seasons has seen McGeeney give the snow globe a fairly vigorous shake both beyond and behind the sideline.
The scene hasn’t completely settled just yet but it looks likely that there will be over half a dozen new faces in situ for the year ahead, to go with new selectors in the shape of Jason Ryan and Damien Hendy. Each new year looks different to what went before but this one feels even more so in Kildare.
“It’s extremely fresh there at the minute,” says Bolton, “with the two new lads in and a couple of lads gone out of the panel as well.
“There’s a load of under-21s after joining up who’ve been there for the last couple of weeks. The young lads have a great attitude and they’re very keen. So with everybody, there’s a real freshness at the moment.” Necessarily so?
“Well, it can be hard to see it from the inside when everybody is killing themselves to do their best and improve their own individual performance. It was going well for us and we were winning games last year.
“ We won Division Two, finally got into Division One and got that monkey off our back. You wouldn’t really see cracks when good things like that are happening. You’re going into the championship thinking you’re playing well but then the wheels come off against Meath.
“Even after that, we were winning games and it didn’t feel as if we were doing too bad. But probably on reflection, yeah, it might have gone a small bit stale. But we were playing average enough football and getting results. We thought come the quarter-final we would have been able to produce it but obviously that wasn’t the case in the end.